Italy's Conte hails EU budget deal, says govt priorities protected

Italy's Conte hails EU budget deal, says govt priorities protected
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte speaks about the government's 2019 budget, next to Italian Economy Minister Giovanni Tria, during a debate at the Senate in Rome, Italy, December 19, 2018. REUTERS/Tony Gentile -
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ROME (Reuters) – Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte heralded on Wednesday a budget deal with the European Commission, saying the long-awaited accord allowed his government to honour its main commitments and boost the economy.

The EU Commission signed off on Italy’s 2019 budget after Rome agreed to lower its deficit targets for the next three years. But in a speech to parliament, Conte said he had resisted calls for even greater cuts and had safeguarded key measures.

“At the end of tough negotiations, conducted with tenacity, we have reached a point of sustainable equilibrium, sticking to a higher (deficit) figure than that deemed appropriate by Europe,” Conte told the upper house Senate.

(Reporting by Gavin Jones and Giulia Segreti; Writing by Crispian Balmer)

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